If you have noticed an increasing spring in my step over the past week, there’s a very good reason. It’s because it feels good to walk again. The radiation treatment is working!
I just had my tenth and final weekday treatment in two weeks, and it has gone pretty smoothly. Each time was pretty much the same: They had me lie on the table with my legs and head in molds to keep me in the exact same position. Then they lined up my tattoos with the laser crosshairs and left the room. I got zapped for 15 seconds on one side. When that side was cooked, the machine rotated 180 degrees and zapped me from the back side, through the table. That's it. No pain, no buzz, no anything. I wouldn't have even known I was getting zapped if the white light hadn't flashed in the corner of the room. There was almost nothing to it.... at least physically.
The big challenge wasn't pain, it was modesty!
Each time I went into the treatment room with the radiation techs, I stripped down to my underpants. The curtain to the hallway was usually mostly closed, though a few times I gave it an extra tug. I was a bit under-dressed to be making new friends in the hallway.
The first time I lied down on the treatment table, I followed instructions to lower my shorts to just below my pubic bone. Since the tattoos are just a single dot, they are not that easy to find. That explains why three strangers (one man, two women), with the help of a FLASHLIGHT AND A RULER, were all peering intently at my crotch. It's a good thing my self-esteem is holding up, because it would have been pretty easy to, um, wither under the circumstances.
As they were "investigating", I glanced over to the monitor on the wall. When I looked earlier I had seen rows of meaningless numbers. This time, however, it showed a live feed of what these investigators were investigating. I tell you, if that image had been on the internet, it would have been enough exposure to make Anthony Weiner blush! Even without the internet, my face flushed hot and my feet got cold. I had to remind myself that these were professionals, and that this would be much funnier tomorrow. Maybe the day after.
The treatment team stopped being strangers to me after a while, and we all loosened up. Yesterday a new (female) tech was furrowing her brow and looking for the magic mark. Dan was across the room when he said, “His is really small.” I didn’t hesitate before responding. “You’re talking about my tattoo, right?” He laughed along with me. (To set the record straight, he also said yes.)
The biggest side effect I’ve had to deal with has been minor fatigue, which will continue for a few weeks. No biggie.
However, the plus side IS a biggie! For the first time in months, I can now run around the basketball court and chase my missed three-pointers again! I'm able to stand for more than five minutes without pain! I can go on short walks with Genevieve! I have some freedom back!
If you couldn’t tell by all the exclamation points, that added exercise also is having a great impact on my mood! Nothing like getting the heart pumping to put a smile back on my face! :-)
I hope each of you, my friends and family, are having as great of a year as I am.